Following record tourism figures for 2016, Itic is calling on politicians to support its call for more funding in the face of Brexit.
Irish inbound tourism is at record levels, counting more than 9.5m visitors last year, but with Brexit yet to bite the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (Itic) wants ministers to be proactive in making sure the bubble won’t burst.
Itic has called for government support to the tune of €12m to replenish state marketing budgets and train operators to cope with any retrenchment. The Confederation has called for three quarters of the amount to go to marketing Ireland, both domestically and internationally, with the remainder used to make the tourism industry ready for Brexit.
British visitors account for 40 percent of total inbound tourism to Ireland, spending €1.3bn, but Brexit has made it 15 percent more expensive for UK visitors to travel abroad.
Itic says the €8 billion industry is being “taken for granted” at cabinet level, and has queried why specific Brexit supports have been made available to other sectors, but not for the tourist industry.
Itic chief executive Eoghan O’Mara-Walsh said: “The tourism euro is as valuable as the euro earned by any other export sector and more valuable in the context that tourism is one of the few industries that can provide regional balance and sustainable local employment.”
Although official statistics highlight a prosperous industry, O’Mara-Walsh insisted there is already “anecdotal evidence” UK tourists are spending less. Itic also said survey data indicates a, “seven percent drop in outbound travel intentions” among UK holidaymakers, while 37 percent plan to spend less on future holidays.